From Jail to Jail is the political autobiography of a central though enigmatic figure of the Indonesian Revolution. Variously labeled a communist, Trotskyite, and nationalist, Tan Malaka managed, during the several decades of his political activity, to run afoul of nearly every political group and faction involved in the Indonesian struggle for independence.
Malaka was elected Chairman of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1921 and barely five years later opposed the PKI-led uprising in Indonesia. He openly opposed Sukarno’s support for negotiations with the Dutch, yet Sukarno issued a decree in 1963 recognizing Tan Malaka as a hero of national independence. During his several decades of political activity he spent periods of exile and hiding in nearly every country in Southeast Asia.
From Jail to Jail is one of the few known autobiographies by an Asian Marxist of the 1930’s and 1940’s.
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How does the language of poetry conspire with the language of power? This question is at the heart of this volume which deals with Indonesia and the Philippines in the early modern and post-1945 periods. These two nations have been shaped by the forces of nationalism, revolution, and metropolitan hegemony. Whether written in Malay, Tagalog, English, or Dutch the writings coming from them carry the contradictions of their time and place in the milieu of race and class.
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